Sunday, January 9, 2022

Turning 30 in Texas (Houston + Corpus Christi)


The thing about having a December birthday is that it is REALLY HARD to get people together to celebrate.  After 30 years of having a December birthday, this is a fact that I have learned to accept.  I decided that since this was a "big birthday" I would take a solo trip to celebrate. I had already been to Marshall and Kennedy Space Centers this year, so I wanted to complete the trifecta. I also have been dreaming of going to Corpus Christi to visit the Selena museum/memorial, etc. for as long as I can remember and I figured my 30th was the perfect time to make this dream come true. Bonus that a friend wanted to tag along which made my trip even more special!

Thursday, December 9, 2021

We left home a little after 4AM to make it to the airport with plenty of time to spare before our 7AM departure to Atlanta. After a three hour layover at ATL and a short unexpected delay, we headed off to Houston. The clouds were SO pretty! I tried to take picture and videos but it just doesn't do justice to the real thing. I nerd out every time I fly. Science is freakin' cool.


We picked up the rental car (a '21 Corolla - worked out great because I got to "test drive" the newest version of my car!) then headed to the Embassy Suites where we would be staying. When researching for my trip, I was SO EXCITED to see they had recently built an ACME Oyster House. There was a time in my life that I swore up and down I would never eat an oyster, but I was talked into it a few years ago on our girls' beach trip and now I crave them! (Only char-grilled ones from ACME though - I still won't eat them anywhere else). As someone who is super sensitive to textures of food, I would have never thought I would enjoy these, but they're absolutely DELISH. If you get the opportunity to go to ACME (they're located along the Gulf coast) I HIGHLY recommend. The waitress only took one order for a dozen oysters and I had to call her back to tell her we EACH wanted an order. She thought we were going to SHARE! HA! *cue Cher Horowitz: AS IF!*


After ACME we headed to the Houston Zoo for the Zoo Lights event.  Back in August we had gone to a wine pairing in Nashville and met a couple there from Houston. I told them I would be visiting in December and they said that the lights were a must see. They were right - the lights were amazing! They had fake snow falling in part of it (which was needed because it was still in the low 80s temperature-wise) and we saw giraffes! After a long day of travel, I wasn't sure we'd go to the Zoo Lights, but I'm glad we did - I love Christmas lights!!!





We headed back to the hotel for a couple drinks at the bar and then to bed, knowing the next day would be an early one.

Friday, December 10, 2021

Happy birthday to me!! We headed down to Corpus Christi for the day which I was SO EXCITED about! I have been waiting half my life to get to the Selena museum and visiting Corpus was a big part of why I chose Houston to celebrate my birthday. 

On the three hour drive down we stopped at a Buc-ees to see what the hype was all about. I definitely see why people get so excited about them! But also, they're no Kwik Trip.......

Our first stop in Corpus was the Q-Productions Selena Museum.  Admission is only $5 and the museum is run by her sister Suzette. Though we didn't see her or Selena's father, they are often there.  In the museum you're first taken through the recording studio that Selena used to record.  One of the scenes from the Selena movie with J. Lo was also filmed there. The studio isn't used anymore in part to preserve Selena's memory, but also because the equipment is so outdated.  They do have a newer recording studio on the premises with updated digital equipment that artists do use to record.







The museum holds many of her amazingly unique outfits and her awards, as well as products she was partnered with and other trinkets that she owned or were created for her. It was hard not to be in absolute awe of everything she accomplished in such a short time frame, especially since she didn't come from money and that it all happened pre-social media. I couldn't help but wonder what her success would have looked like had she not been killed.

Following the museum we went to the gravesite. Its located at Seaside Memorial Park in Corpus and is surrounded by a black fence. They keep it very well maintained.


Then we went to the Mirador de la Flor memorial down by the marina located at 600 N Shoreline Blvd in Corpus Christi. It is in a gazebo decorated with tiled floral designs. The gazebo holds a statue of Selena and a large white rose to symbolize Selena.  The text reads, "Selena was referred to as La Flor (The Flower) and identified with La Rosa Blanca (The White Rose).  When you view La Rosa Blanca you feel her presence nearby.  Selena's stage is now silent, yet, her persona enriched the lives of those she touched and her music lives on."




It was 90 degrees and windy as all get out, so we walked a little into downtown to find Selena and Chris Perez's stars on the South Texas Music Walk of Fame. It was located in the literal middle of the block between buildings so it took a minute to find. We drove though a few not-so-nice looking areas of Corpus, but the bay area and downtown were beautiful! 


There was a taco truck I was hoping to hit for lunch, but it wasn't parked where the internet told me it usually was, so we ended up going to the only two-story Whataburger (or as its known in my family, Fake In-N-Out). We ate upstairs of course. One of the workers came upstairs to clean while we were there and she was very friendly and chatted with us for a little while.


The last stop in Corpus was a Selena mural located at 847 Bloomington Street before heading back to Houston so we could make it in time for the hotel happy hour (free drinks and snacks!)


I had a couple rum punches at the hotel and then we caught an Uber to Bluewater Seafood about 20 minutes away. I wanted to go there because they had margarita flights! Our Uber driver was so funny - he sang me happy birthday! I got real nervous when he missed the freeway exit because that is what happens when you watch too many murder documentaries, but he quickly corrected his route and all was well again.

When we got to the restaurant, we found out it was their 25th anniversary. We got to spin a wheel for a prize and if we took a picture with the pirate statue we got a free margarita (we did - score!) I ordered the baja fish tacos and they were delicious! The water however was NOT!! I think they drained it right out of the pirate's ship....BLEGH! The margarita plank was yummy though - my fave was watermelon (no surprise!)



We Ubered back to the hotel and our driver James drove 90 down the freeway, but he was playing a Paramore album so that was a win. When we pulled into the parking lot and got out of the Uber we saw some other women with balloons. I asked one if it was her birthday too. She said it wasn't and that they were there for a quinceañera. "Me too!" I told them, "Well, quinceañera times two. Its my treinta!" We ended up riding the elevator with them and they kept telling me "happy treinta!" It was amusing.

Though I was tired, there were severe storms going through back in Tennessee so I stayed up later than intended following the storms and making sure home wasn't hit with the tornados. I don't know what it is about my birthday weekend but the weather is crazy every year - for as long as I can remember there was a snowstorm on my birthday weekend back up when I was in MN. They had one this year as well! I guess going on vacation to Texas this year was me getting away from the all the storms.

Saturday, December 11, 2021

Finally a day we could sleep in! I mean I was still up by 6, but still, the opportunity was there!

Today's main goal was to get to Johnson Space Center.  They didn't open until 10 so after breakfast we hit a few murals on the way there.

Located at 2310 Highway 6 South
Located at Westheimer at Wilcrest SW Corner (on the back of a strip mall)

I have been to Johnson Space Center once before, I think when I was 15. I did remember parts of it, but a lot of the exhibits were new so that was nice! I particularly liked the one about Mars and they had a cool interactive one about the Artemis missions that is great for kids. I took a few photos of some things I could bring back to the classroom, and enjoyed the presentation I watched (even though it was geared towards children!) I'm pretty well-versed on the space stuff by now, but I'm still absolutely in awe every time I think about it. Like I said before, science is freakin' cool!






Afterwards we hit a few more murals then headed to In-N-Out for lunch. When I had researched earlier this year, I couldn't find any In-N-Outs in Houston. My mom happened to look the day before and found there were a few in the area. Even when we went at 2PM it was packed! And people just kept coming!

Located at 2311 Polk Street
Located at 2311 Polk Street



We headed back to the hotel for a little rest before heading down to enjoy the hot tub. A set of grandparents were there with their grandson and the woman happened to be a high school librarian.  Her first question was, "are you dealing with crazy behaviors this year, too?" When the grandpa heard we were teachers as well he immediately asked, "well where are your drinks?!" 

Happy hour started again at 5:30P so we headed down for drinks and snacks. They had these DELICIOUS Chinese dumplings and I could have eaten them all night! I guess the quinceañera was tonight, because the girl came down in her big princess dress and there was a mariachi band playing in the lobby as they did some dances before going to the party room upstairs. There were a couple of REALLY TALL DUDES there too. I went to walk past them to gauge their height and I wasn't even close to their shoulders.

Happy hour ended at 7:30 so we went back up to the room to settle in for the night. 4AM was going to come quickly!

Sunday, December 12, 2021

After waking up at 3:30 AM we made the trek back to the other side of Houston to drop the car off and shuttle to the airport.  Our flights were uneventful (which is always good) and we made it back to a freezing cold Nashville by 11:30AM. As always, its good to be home, but I really enjoyed my birthday trip!! Starting to think maybe I will need to make this an annual thing...

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